To become a better leader, should you be a Sidekick or a Superhero?

Many pros are looking for the silver bullet – the magic formula – the hocus-pocus – the quick fix – the express train (if you will) to success. Even though it seems like they really want to know what it is, most don’t like the answer when they hear it, because, as Thomas Edison said, “It’s dressed in overalls and it looks like work.

becoming a better leader by magicWhile we all dream of having that one great idea, genius breakthrough or other ticket to overnight success, 99.9% of the time, that’s not where we’re going to find it. Earlier this week, the uber-smart people at Harvard Business Review recommended three ways to achieve professional success, and not one of them had to do with a genius idea or a superstar performance. And all three can only be achieved over time:

Strong performance.
This is about your ‘track record’ over time in fulfilling your responsibilities, yes, but also by consistently exceeding expectations and goals. This isn’t about doing what’s expected, it’s about doing more than what’s expected, most of the time.

This is about who you really are on the inside coming out on the outside. You can discover that person in the actions and behaviors you engage in when (you think) no one else is looking. While some people can fake a moral compass when things are good, deficiencies are often exposed in times of stress and duress.

Who takes over when things get tough for you – the angel or the demon? How about the little things – do you show up on time, every time? Stretch your lunch break? Do personal tasks on the clock? Shirk cleaning duties? And how about your personal appearance – do you ride the line of what’s appropriate or allowed in the workplace, or do you dress for the position you aspire to achieve?

You demonstrate drive when you show up, day in and day out, ready to go. You demonstrate drive when you take on responsibilities outside of the scope of your job and complete them, with style and enthusiasm. You demonstrate drive when you seek out continuing education at every opportunity.

And that brings me to the main point.

To become a better leader, should you be a Sidekick or a Superhero?

To get where you want to go in your professional career, be the sidekick.
Seek out mentors and take in all that they’re willing to teach you. Be observant and take note of what sets successful people apart from others; not only what they know or can do, but how they treat others, what they value and what they think is most important.

No silver bullets or magic formulas; but then, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. The good news is that even though this formula works (and has always worked) few seem to follow it. So you can set yourself apart and set yourself up for success for the long haul if you are simply willing to invest — in yourself.